AI imaging tool released to help Aotearoa become predator free

April 21, 2023 1:51 pm

Media Release

A collaborative project between kiwi companies Groundtruth (providers of the ‘TrapNZ’ trapping data recording platform) and Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research has resulted in the creation of an online artificial intelligence (AI) software that is being released for free use.

Funded by Predator Free 2050 Limited, the software is called CamTrapNZ and can currently identify up to 15 different species in camera trap images.

“Camera traps are already widely used and are extremely useful but processing the images can be time consuming and costly. We hope this will make it affordable and achievable to use camera traps at large scale,” says Manaaki Whenua researcher Al Glen.

“Creating the AI was very challenging. One of the biggest hurdles we faced was accurately detecting if there was an animal in the image. Cracking that issue made all the difference.”

Located on TrapNZ, users can upload up to 200 images and receive results within minutes, saving huge amounts of time and improving productivity. As the technology continues to be developed the number of images capable of being loaded at any one time will increase and, with the ability to self-learn, the software will refine its accuracy and include more species.

With more than 6000 registered camera traps on TrapNZ, CamTrapNZ now gives their owners a free tool to streamline predator detection and subsequent elimination. It can also be used to monitor the presence of pigs and goats.

The software development required thousands of images in order to train the AI, and were provided by the Department of Conservation, MPI, Regional Councils, Predator Free 2050 Limited landscape predator eradication projects in Hawke’s Bay, Taranaki and Banks Peninsula, and community groups across Aotearoa.

Predator Free Wellington is using hundreds of camera traps to detect the last remaining Ship rats on Miramar Peninsula, and it’s using CamTrapNZ to confirm that areas that are clear of rats remain clear, and to detect any incursions. Other predator free groups around the country are using it to measure trap efficacy and observe animal behaviour around traps.

Predator Free 2050 Limited’s Science Director Daniel Tompkins says “Supporting people and projects to make more effective use of their time is one critical way in which we can enable them to have greater impact on the ground for Predator Free 2050.”

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